Alaska Residence

This new construction home is on a corner infill lot in the Old Fourth Ward neighborhood. In this home, there is an emphasis on site-specific design and seamless integration of the home with the outdoors. Careful consideration and emphasis of landscape design and elements was a priority here. The very exposed corner lot raised slightly above street level meant that most sides of the home are fairly visually exposed so it was even more important here than normal to insure that no elevation of the home was secondary in design or material. The glass “box” entry addresses the house’s corner condition. A play of varying floor levels in the home provides spatial interest and distinguishes room functions in the home without having to use walls to do so.

Despite large areas of window glass, passive solar design strategies such as very large overhangs, deep inset windows and careful window placement ensure great interior light though with relatively modest solar energy gain. On the side street elevation, a “floating” architectural frame element echoes a similar one on the front but remains open to provide solar protection to a second-floor rooftop deck. A large, architecturally integrated planter separated from the dining room by a seamless glass wall blurs the boundary between indoor and outdoor – bringing a sense of garden connection to a space that is raised well above grade level.

Olympic Place Courtyard House

Olympic Place Courtyard House uses an L-shaped typology to create a structure that integrates elements of its cultural context, site, and program into a warm and inviting home for the family that lives there. The L-shape of the house was driven by the location of the existing trees and opportunities for harvesting natural daylight and was embraced because of the transparency it offered when circulation was pulled to the inner courtyard edge of the house. Overhangs along the courtyard are sized to allow for passive daylight, taking advantage of the site’s southern exposure.

The courtyard-facing circulation axes are punctuated at their intersection by a three-story space at the heart of the home. A stair wraps around this opening and enables the stack effect to pull warm air up and out of the house through operable windows at the top. The fireplace is another strong organizing element, rising from the foundation all the way through the cantilevered roof opening.

Stucco, cypress siding, and glass are the predominant materials. Stucco is used to emphasize the weight of the home’s plinth, and glass wraps around the main level of the house to allow the cypress-wrapped volumes to float above. Interior walls are pulled through each level to keep the facade open and the interior spaces legible and consistent through the transparent skin.

In addition to the passive sustainable design strategies described above, a geothermal heat pump system provides air at stable temperatures, minimizing the energy required to heat and cool the home.

Casa DeSilva

The site for this single family residence is located immediately alongside the northern ridge of “El Cerro de Chipinque” in the Sierra Madre Oriental range in the state of Nuevo Leon in northeast Mexico. The house is configured to maximize views of the parallel ridgeline, as well as the dramatic peak, known as La Eme (“the M”), which terminates the eastern vista.

In the configuration of the residence, interior and exterior spaces are defined primarily by vertical planes of concrete, sliding in and out of the house to define interior and exterior zones for living, exploring the themes of Transparency and Penetration.

Secondary forms clad in thinly sliced black granite or contrasting white plaster express more solid and enclosed volumes. The texture and color of the granite alludes to the visible rock peaks of the mountain range looming above. More monochromatic cut stone was used for flooring. Completing the palette of materials, warmer tones of wood are used inside and out which contrast with the coolness of the granite and concrete.

While the wood and stone components are largely expressed as simple cubic forms, the plasticity inherent in concrete is expressed and articulated with more complexity — forming portals, generating negative space, and framing views. The composition is an honest expression of materials, selected to provide a range of textures, and configured to provide a hierarchy of scale.


Nantahala Mountain Retreat

The project is a modest 1,000-square-foot modern retreat in Scaly Mountain, North Carolina. The project site is a steeply sloping 6 acre ridge parcel that borders the Nantahala National Forest mountain ranges. The inspiration for the house is from Japanese bungalow houses. The planning goals were to embrace and engage the surrounding landscape, capitalizing on the views of ridge line, treetops, and rock face; and to expand the square footage by merging interior space with exterior decks.

The main living space is an open plan living/kitchen/dining area with reclaimed wide plank oak flooring ; the main focus is the window wall and view A glass panel door recesses into the wall opening the kitchen to the perch deck. A large reclaimed wood and iron table rests over the kitchen island and easily rolls out to the perch deck for outdoor dining. The wall opposing the view and ceilings are board and batten black stained pine that are inspired by the Japanese technique of Shou Sugi Ban and balance well with the room’s neutral color palate and saturation of natural light. The finishes are extended in the bedrooms and bath and are furnished minimally with Japanese-inspired bedding.

The extreme slope of the site required thoughtful use of foundation and support posts, braced to stand up to high winds. Windows and doors also had to meet high wind load requirements required by the local codes. A collaboration with our strucural consultant resulted in an integrated solution for the double joist overhangs on the upper portions of the roof that would withstand the wind load.

An additional challenge was to create a high impact property with a limited budget. Less expensive black stained board and batten pine siding was used instead of sho sugi ban charred wood,to create the Japanese-inspired look. Meticulous roofing details were achieved using less expensive material, including corrugated metal roofing that was treated to rust quickly, and outriggers crafted from standard pressure treated lumber. The deck rails were created using pressure treated top cap, hog pen fencing, with flat bar steel supports combined in a modern and surprising way on both decks and the entrance bridge.

The rolling table over the island and multiple tree stump stools configured as a coffee table allow for flexible uses of furnishings throughout the space.

Logistical challenges included building in a remote location and managing the build from afar, understanding that work hours and practices differ in a small mountain town and are highly dependent on unpredictable weather patterns. Modern details are not customary in the region, and were often overlooked or flawed in execution, adding to the overall timeline and cost of the project. The project certainly provided an appreciation of small spaces, and how to maximize their use and efficiency. Perhaps the greatest lesson we learned is to thoroughly confer with contractor references ahead of time to get an up-front understanding of the subs that are planed to use. The client plans to continue to build further on the site.

Brenner House

Designed for a retired professional couple, now an artist and a motorbike enthusiast, the Brenner House sits on a 3-acre property near Newnan, Georgia, 40 minutes south of downtown Atlanta. The wooded site is adjacent to a water reservoir with development restrictions protecting the surrounding watershed. The gently sloping terrain, the reservoir to the south and access from the north, offer ideal conditions for private outdoor entertainment space and panoramic views of the lake.

The design responds to the site and program by placing 4 volumes around a central entry that links the public approach and views to the lake: car and bike garages to the north; guest and living spaces to the south. (Diagram 1). Wrapping the volumes with solid walls and service areas creates 2 L-shaped forms that orient the spaces to the site and define the see-through entry. (Diagram 2). The second floor’s master bedroom and office are contained in a 3rd L-shaped enclosure that sits atop the lower floor enclosures and spans the central entry. An open, cantilevered stair extends the entry to the upper floor and metal roof “hats” define the ground floor volumes from above. (Diagram 3).

Inchyra House

The design of the Inchyra House represents a return to family roots for the owners, one of whom grew up near the beautiful north Georgia property.

Their interest in a sustainable lifestyle, organic gardening, viticulture, aquaculture and sustainable land use completely inform the design solution. The open site was formerly agricultural land, the context is rural and primarily farmland.

The master plan of the 10-acre site includes locations of the main house, guest house, greenhouse, a pond for viticulture, orchards, crops, gardens, a labyrinth, privacy screenings of native plants, paths and gravel roads linking the various site functions. Southern views toward the mountains of the Chattahoochee National Forest were paramount in location and design of the house.

The one-room-wide shotgun design of the house combines southern vernacular concepts of cross ventilation and livability. A traditional dogtrot transects the middle of the house as main entry on one side and open patio living on the other. The open east wing of the house comprises the day-to-day living areas while the west wing houses guest, laundry, shop, gym and mud room functions.

The house is a study in energy conservation, economy of materials and minimalist design. The east/west linear orientation is ideal for the southern climate. Extensive eaves shelter south facing glazing in summer and allow winter sun to warm the floors. North facing walls of insulated concrete masonry units utilize thermal mass to retain investments in heating and cooling and provide a sound and privacy barrier toward the adjacent highway.

Lakeshore House

The Lakeshore House investigates the seminal architectural typology of the Primitive Hut. Following the spirit of Laugier’s allegorical model, the Lakeshore House utilizes the form of the most basic representation of “house.” The extruded, gabled box is the ubiquitous signifier of a child’s drawing. The form eschews ornamentation in favor of simplicity, focusing instead on essentialities and restraint, a minimalist solution to one of Man’s most basic needs: to shelter.

The house itself is situated on a “throw away” sliver of land in the sought after, in-town Lake Claire neighborhood. In addition to the typical single-family setbacks, the parcel is further delineated by two stream buffers, a sanitary sewer easement, and the presence of the 100-year flood plain. These restrictions reduce the quarter-acre site to barely 1500 SF of buildable area. The close proximity of neighboring residences combined with challenging topography created additional concerns regarding privacy, sight lines, and vehicular access to any new structure.

The project’s clients, an established couple and their teenage child, developed a dense program brief. After the synthesis of multiple schemes, the final plans for the Lakeshore House called for a three-story volume connected vertically by an open riser stair, with a screened pavilion located to the rear. Sheltered parking was designed near the street, with access to the house provided via a steel pedestrian bridge across an existing stream. The majority of apertures are located at the rear, maximizing privacy and granting views of the wooded hillside to the west.

Split Box House

The Split Box House aims to create a quiet, restrained, escape from the excessively noisy digital world that overly stimulates our daily lives and is a reaction to the surrounding banal spec homes each a louder spectacle than the next. Simple and clean in its form, the house started as a twenty-two-foot wide extruded box. That width was chosen based on the distance a reasonable-sized wood truss can span. This ensured that no interior support walls were required, allowing for an uncomplicated open floor plan. Cut to the desired length based on the space requirements of the family, the box is subsequently split into public and private functions. The private portion is rotated ninety degrees around the sky-lit stair hall to maximize views to the serene woods behind the house.

A complimentary warm ipe wood, alluding to the softer interiors of the house, clads the cuts. The private functions, comprised of the bedrooms upstairs and the guesthouse on the main level, bridge across a covered breezeway creating an outdoor room with a view corridor to the woods and access to the main and guest house entrances. The public functions move through a series of low and tall spaces culminating in a double height sky-lit space that provides shifting light patterns throughout the day. A series of site walls, carefully nestled into the steep lot, cascade down the front hill from the street to create a terraced entrance garden that becomes the exposed foundation of the house.